Not long ago, “going native” meant that a visitor was dressing, eating and otherwise behaving like the locals. It also inferred that you were less refined and gave up many of the courtesies and manners you previously used. It was not a compliment.
Today, it refers to advertisements which blend into their surroundings. If you’re the one attempting to sell something, it’s a good thing since native ads can avoid ad blocking software. But if you are the viewer trying to get to that meaty video or article, you may be well into reading or viewing an ad before you realize it’s not real content.
Native Advertising Sure Looks Local
Native advertising matches the presentation of content where it appears. If you still read a newspaper that’s actually made of paper, the ads look like articles touting the excellent effectiveness of vitamins and the high quality of Amish space heaters. Online native advertising looks like any other article or video but it’s there to advertise a product or service. You may be entertained or informed by the content but you might not recognize it as an ad until you’re halfway through it.
Native advertising is increasing because ad blockers are becoming more widely used.
Ad Blockers Take a Bite Out of Profit
Statistics show that 198 million users are actively ad blocking with software. The estimated lost revenue for advertisers was $22 billion in 2015. Some browsers and wireless carriers have begun to include ad blocking software which is already activated when you opt to use their product. Mobile carrier Digicel is already ad blocking and so is Alibaba’s UC browser in China and India. Google is blocking some ads after acknowledging that certain ads are annoying.
Blocking, Skipping and Anti-tracking Are Widespread
A recent survey by U.K. ad agency Mirriad found that 84% of millennials block or skip ads most or all of the time. Gen X blocks or skips 73% of the time and Baby Boomers are right with them at 72%. Anti-tracking software like Privacy Badger and Ghostery is used by 23% of consumers within a wide age-range from 16 to 64 years old. Mirriad also found that users skip pre-roll ads a whopping 90% of the time. This makes the ad experts at Mirriad big fans of native advertising.
Sheriff Yahoo Just Rode Into Town
Recently, Yahoo began refusing access to email for some customers when ad blocking software was detected. When questioned, they indicated that they were testing a “new user experience.” There’s no doubt that Yahoo is losing revenue when ads are blocked. It remains to be seen if they will also lose customers as a result of denying service. And think about the customers who bought devices and services with the ad blocker already built in. They may not even know how to disable the blocking in order to access their email.
Hey, You Ate My Slice of the Pie
Of course we know that ads make money but so do ad blockers. Some ad blockers are nonprofit but others are businesses. They identify some ads as acceptable and negotiate to split the revenue from these ads. So they make their money from ads. Oh, the irony.
Since anti-tracking software isn’t creating the same animosity, users who only care about being tracked can switch from an ad blocker to an anti-tracking product.
The best solution may be to go native and create a viewable, less annoying ad that fits into the existing environment. Mirriad’s survey also found that 27% of millennial users preferred “less disruptive” ads. It remains to be seen if those ads will look like the cell phone towers disguised as bizarre pine trees along the highway.
Is it a flounder or a native ad for a charter fishing excursion?